I recently spent some time gabbing with Dory proprietor, 76-year-old Jack Kiffer. This senior citizen opens the saloon in the morning and stays until closing, which could be as late as 4 a.m. on some days.
“We’re very busy on weekends and on Monday which is industry night,” Jack said, explaining that people who work in the restaurant business show up then.
Jack said that he’s open for lunch and dinner and has a regular bar crowd that comes in about 3 in the afternoon.
He said that one of his biggest issues is with help and that many times he has to fill in when people just do not show up for work.
Jack took over as owner after the death of his longtime friend Dick Edwards. Mr. Edwards had no heirs except a brother who wanted no part of The Dory, according to Jack. He told Jack to keep it as The Dory, which Jack did once he became the new owner.
“The place needed loads of work,”Jack said, noting that the floor was rotted and walls needed to be propped up. The original bar and back wall with all the liquor bottles and mirrors are still there along with some memorable photographs including one of the first “Dory Degenerates” softball teams, a picture of Mr. Edwards in his Air Force pilot uniform and the sign that says “unattended children will be sold as slaves.”
Stuffed game fish adorn the walls and the pool table stands in front of the fireplace. It gets covered during mealtimes.
Jack was undaunted by all the repair that the building needed because he grew up in a contractor family. His father was a builder and every summer as a kid Jack apprenticed learning the different skills of plumbing, electrical, masonry and carpentry.
He put these skills to good use early by forming his own company and building over 100 restaurants in New York City. He said that he had more than 40 people working for him “which was very difficult because of parking rules.”
“WPIX did a story about our parking problems and the City Council changed the rules,” he said. Jack had his own bar on 79th Street and Lexington. Mr. Edwards’ bar was on 60th Street and Lexington. That’s how they got to know each other.
According to Jack, The Dory was built in 1923 by Frank Chiaramonte on marshland that had been filled in and divided by developer Thomas Conklin. It was built on pilings. The Langbein family bought it and they then sold it to Mal Nevel, who borrowed the money from Mr. Edwards who was an Island regular at his parents’ house in Dering Harbor.
“Mal got to a point in 1972 that he just wanted out and left the business,” Jack explained, adding that Mr. Edwards and his business partner Jane Wiseman took over ownership of the place.
There have been numerous Islanders over the years who carved out their own special memories of The Dory and I suppose new memories are being created for the new patrons.
The Dory was the place where everyone went when all the other bars closed. Frenchie at the Chequit would announce closing time by shouting “Dory time!”
The jukebox was very loud and patrons would spill out into the street rocking to the sounds of whatever was blasting.